The state of Arizona is no stranger to the LDS religion. Most of the southern portion of the state was founded by Mormon settlers who were looking for land to practice their religion. As the population grew across Arizona in the past twenty years, leaders of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have decided to undertake the construction and dedication of five new temples since the Mesa Temple was completed in 1927. The Gilbert Temple, opened on March 2, 2014, is within the top twenty largest temples built within the church, and is the largest temple in Arizona. Ever since the temple opened, it has been filled with visitors every Tuesday through Saturday, the flow of Mormons rushing in and out of the temple doors seeming to be never ending. Serving as a beautiful landmark and a symbol of love, faith, and a spot of worship for thousands of saints, the Gilbert Temple stands as a stunning reminder of the town’s history and proves that the town will continue to progress and grow.
Announced on April 10, 2008, Mormons inhabiting the town of Gilbert were beyond excited to hear the news that a new temple would be built right within their own small town. The groundbreaking ceremony, a customary event for most LDS temples, was held on November 13, 2010, with construction to be held over the next three years to complete the massive structure. The Gilbert Temple has proven to be the largest building in the East Valley, a tremendous accomplishment for the LDS church. Church officials said the temple would be designed slightly differently than other temples the church had previously built, with beautifully designed panes of glass serving as towering windows and the desert agave plant being the main inspiration of the temple’s engravings and decoration. The placing of an angel Moroni statue atop the temple’s highest steeple alone drew a crowd of hundreds of Saints to the unfinished temple grounds, knowing that they may not ever have an opportunity to see something this magnificent in their town again. While this number was significantly higher for the actual dedication of the temple, the event that took place the night before the temple officially opened its doors had an attendance of astronomical numbers. The Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration consisted of over 12,000 youth singing and dancing with joy for the opening of their temple. The celebration, after being rehearsed for months before the dedication, only had one major hitch – it was pouring rain the entire night, muddying the fields the youth were supposed to dance on. Ignoring the sudden challenge, the young members of the church pushed through the storm as though it were nothing and continued to worship their temple with song and dance.
Despite the setbacks throughout the temple’s long building process, it has been running smoothly ever since and has been host to thousands of guests since it opened. This gorgeous landmark casts shadows across the town of Gilbert, serving as a reminder of the hard work and faith that went into the creation of one of the biggest temples the church has to offer. Latter Day Saints around the state come visit this holy house day by day, and will keep this building alive for years to come through their worship and faith
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